Sunday, September 11, 2011

Five tips for choosing a great vet for your senior dog

Finding a veterinarian for a dog of any age can be a daunting proposition if you think about all of the very stressful reasons why you may have to go to one of them.  

I've been going to Pacific Petcare for the last four years and can vouch that they're the best in helping me to look out for the health and well being of my dogs.

Why do I think they're so great?  They hit all of my major criteria for what makes a good vet.

Take a gander at the list below when searching for a new vet for your old dog.

To being with, they have to...

  1. Communicate effectively
    Are the staff able to clearly get their point across?  Do they give it to you straight without mincing words?  Do they adequately explain what all the medical mumbo jumbo means to you? Does what the staff say match what the vets themselves are saying?

    Keep in mind, there are going to be times that they may need to tell you things that you would rather not like to hear, but if there thoughtful enough to talk to you like a person instead of a customer, you should recognize this and use it as a trigger to listen.

    I know that my vets are working with me to make the best decisions possible, and towards that end, they...

  2. Provide options
    A combination of experience and knowledge along with a staff of trained, qualified professionals is what helps the vet determine what is the best medical option for you for any particular ailment. However, if you're not sure, or if their recommendation is not quite what you expected, you should ask any question that pops into your head.  It's much better for you to act with a peaceful mind instead of assuming the worst, because you were uncomfortable about asking certain questions.

    As long as they're keeping in line with #1 (Communicate Effectively) it behooves you to keep an open mind and ear.  If money is a concern, you should make sure that you ask questions about that as well.  There may not always be a less expensive solution, but it never hurts to ask. Worst case, you may pick up a few tips on preventive medicine that make your next visit less traumatic.

    So, even with all of the options that the doctor could provide when reviewing your dog's case, it's always good to know they have...

  3. A good referral network  (Are they connected? )
    If they went to school and/or are active in the local veterinarian community, they probably are. I've taken a referral once, for a dog dermatologist, and although it was rather costly, in the short term, in the long run, it was the best thing that I did for my itchy pal.

    The doctor that I was referred to, couldn't have been more friendly and effective in identifying and treating my senior pup's resistant skin virus.  The dermatologist (and really, any specialist should) made sure that the records were shared with the original vet.

    Back to your regular vet, they should also...

  4. Offer a variety of services
    This is one of those criteria that may be the "X Factor" for a lot of folks, but I think it's important enough to consider as a requirement, especially if your older dog doesn't like change. I'm referring to those cases where your old pal takes a while to warm up to new folks.

    Why put them through that if you can help it especially when they're sick or at least uncomfortable?

    Dental, alternative medicine (massage, acupuncture, etc.), boarding, and grooming, are just some of the other features that you might want to keep in mind. For old dogs that require boarding, I've had nothing but great experiences when my dog was boarded at the vet office.  They have the dog's medical history, knows the him or her as well as anyone, and can provide medical assistance after confirming with you that it's alright.

    And finally...

  5. They must love pets
    Do the staff take their dogs to this vet? Do they take their animals to work? Do they treat you and your canine room mate as family?  If they do, and all of the other criteria are in place, it sounds like this might be the start of a great relationship with your vet. 
Hopefully that helped or at least got you thinking about what is important to you when choosing a vet.
Haven't decided to adopt a senior pooch because the choice of veterinarian seems like too much?  Read through the list again. Pop me out a question, if you'd like or better yet, call a local vet and put your mind to ease before taking action.

Have I missed anything?

Let us know what great things you like about your pet (or just give them a shout out here in a comment.)

 In the video below, Dr. Boyd (who runs Pacific Petcare) speaks to all of the services that they offer: